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Koke to join Chelsea, Podolski eyes escape

Transfer Talk
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Keita snubbed Liverpool for Valencia

Seydou Keita says he turned down Premier League side Liverpool to sign for troubled La Liga club Valencia.

Keita was on hand to see new club Valencia defeat former employers Barcelona.
Keita was on hand to see new club Valencia defeat former employers Barcelona.

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Former Barcelona midfielder Keita has returned to La Liga after 18 months with Chinese club Dalian Aerbin, and was presented at the Mestalla in front of about 600 fans on Monday afternoon.

The Mali international told reporters at the event that he had been close to moving to Anfield but had changed his mind when Valencia -- currently sitting in mid-table in La Liga with the club in turmoil off the pitch and up for sale -- had called.

"When we received the call from Valencia, talks with Liverpool were at a very advanced stage," Keita said. "But then I told my agent we were going to Valencia. I did not doubt for a second. When I came to play at Mestalla with Sevilla or Barcelona I suffered a lot to win, because this is a really big club, with fantastic fans. That is why I opted to come here."

The 34-year-old's revelation will compound the disappointment during the January transfer window suffered by Liverpool, who also missed out on signing Ukraine attacker Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro on deadline day and saw Chelsea beat them to the signature of Egypt winger Mohamed Salah from Basel.

Keita, who also had offers from teams in Dubai, Qatar and Turkey, has signed an initial six-month deal at Valencia, with an option for another season, as he wanted to prove his fitness after 18 months away from top level club football.

"It is important that this is clear," he said. "I am coming here from China. To sign for a year and a half is a difficult thing for the club. I told them to relax, that I would sign for six months and if I have the right level we will all have time to continue. That is better for the club, and for everyone."

The double Champions League-winner was at the Camp Nou on Sunday to watch his new team beat old side Barcelona 3-2 on Saturday evening.

"The truth is the victory was a big boost for everyone," Keita said. "We were in the stand watching the game and, when Barca scored the first goal we thought it would be very difficult, but in the end we managed to win, very well. It was a good game and the team played really well. They are just three points, but beating Barca is not easy. All the team was really happy, and me too."

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